How to Navigate Through Your Personal Injury Case
So you got hurt in an accident- now what? Filing a personal injury lawsuit may seem daunting, but we’re here to clear that up. We’ll take you through step-by-step instructions in order to make this entire process as painless as possible.
- Medical Treatment: This may seem obvious, but seeking medical attention after any kind of accident is not only smart, but also shows proof to the insurance adjuster and jury that you actually were concerned about any injuries and not just blowing smoke.
- Lawyer Up: Do you even need a lawyer? A. You may certainly choose to settle your case on your own if it’s smaller in size, however, if you haven’t been to work in several days, have broken bones, and/or have medical bills totaling a couple thousand dollars, you’re going to want a lawyer by your side. If you don’t have any attorneys in mind, this is where Google becomes your best friend. And don’t think you have to choose the first one you find; be a little selective in your search. A lot of times, plaintiffs fret over not having foreseeable funds to cover all the costs of legal help. Be aware that legal funding companies do exist and are more than happy to assist with lawsuit cash advance loans.
- Initial Consultation: Just a heads up on this first meeting: Its purpose is to meet with a personal injury lawyer so he/she can evaluate your case and decide the likelihood of winning any compensation for you. The good news is that this consultation is usually free, so you don’t have to worry about spending unnecessary money if the attorney decides it’s not a great case.
- Investigation Period: During this time, your attorney will be asking you a ton of questions about your accident: how/where it happened, your background, your medical condition and treatment, etc. It’s important to be clear and honest about every single detail, since your attorney will need the most accurate information so they can form a solid case in your defense. Lawyers don’t want to be surprised with information they weren’t told initially. Also, note that the reviewing of medical records relating to your case can take months, so prepare to sit back and wait.
- Negotiation Phase: This is the point where your lawyer files a lawsuit (or considers making a demand to the other attorney if it’s a smaller personal injury claim). Good lawyers won’t settle a case before filing suit if it involves claims of permanent injury or impairment. They also know that waiting until the plaintiff has reached the point of maximum medical improvement (MMI) is imperative before making any demands. Why? Because the case may be undervalued if MMI isn’t reached. This may not always be the most ideal setup, however; if the plaintiff can’t afford to sit around and wait until MMI is reached, the lawyer should put the case in suit immediately. This is where lawsuit loans come in handy.
- Lawsuit Filed: Once the personal injury lawsuit has been filed, it generally takes one to two years for it to even get to trial. Every state’s procedures are different, but each one has a strict set of time limits that must be closely adhered to.
- Discovery Stage: This stage entails each party interrogating one another for facts, clues, anything they can get their hands on in reference to the opposite case. Witnesses are questioned during this time as well. It’s really a gathering of realities by each side. Depending on the complexity of the case, this procedure may take six months to a year.
- Settlement or Mediation: Sometimes attorneys can’t settle a case themselves, so they turn to a mediator. The mediator serves as a neutral lawyer who arbitrates each case and tries to settle it rather than going before an actual judge and jury. If mediation is impossible, then everyone agrees to move to trial.
- Trial: Personal injury trials may last a day, a week, or longer. The actual trial date also may not happen on the exact day it’s scheduled; it just depends on the judge’s agenda. If this happens, just hold tight; it doesn’t mean anyone is purposely delaying your trial or conspiring against you.
Written by: Kristy Kravitsky